Weaving in Honor of Weavers

The American handweavers of the early twentieth century had to rediscover much that was lost over decades of industrialization. Today, our weaving community is blessed to have generous, experienced members to pass on the craft, welcoming new weavers, teaching, mentoring, and sharing their passion. Every few weeks I receive a letter from one weaver or another, writing about one of these treasured friends who has passed from our lives, and I wish we had the space in Handwoven to memorialize each and every one of them. Here is Susan Horton to tell you about a precious weaver in her life. As you read it, I hope you will think fondly and gratefully of the precious weavers in yours. –– Anita


At its last two meetings, besides looking at honeycomb (the weave structure!), my guild's weave structures study group has been talking about a project to honor weavers of the past and present for their inspiration. Some in the group want to honor someone they knew or know, others are interested in using the samples or work of well-known or unknown weavers and other fiber artists. Part of the project will be learning about the artists as well as interpreting one of their pieces or samples. In the fall, we are planning a program for the guild when we will present our weavings and talk about the artists we are honoring. 

    Patricia Ghourdijan, weaver and inspiration. 

You would think it would be hard to pick a favorite weaver, but in fact it was easy, I picked my friend, Patricia Ghourdjian, who passed away in November at the age of 90. Pat was an inspiration to me in more than one way, not the least of which was her passion for all types of fiber arts and her determination to continue weaving although she was, for all intents, blind. Pat was a member of the guild and the study group and often stunned those of us who are not blind and not 90 years old with her productivity. When her eyesight would stymie and frustrate her, she would sometimes talk of quitting, and I would tell her "You need to weave so I'll know I can weave when I'm 90." And she did; in fact she had a project on her loom when she passed away.

Pat's daughter-in-law, Connie Ghourdjian, lent me her samples. There are about thirty of them, of varying degrees of interest and beauty. Many of them are accompanied with a note about the page in the book or magazine used, the yarn size, and the sett. I homed in on the sample she used to design the fabric for an apron for her husband, George. For a man's apron, I think we expected blue, black, or gray and maybe some burgundy, in a simple twill. With her usual flair, however, Pat wove goose eye twill in pink, orange, and purple. George, a retired military officer, told her he liked it so much he wanted to be buried in it!

To honor Pat, I'm going to weave fabric for an apron using elements from her sampling, but I've decided to expand the parameters of the project to include other weavers that also inspire me. I want to incorporate some ideas from Elisabeth Hill's "Chocolate Chef's Apron" in the September/October 2012 issue of Handwoven. That article was an inspiration to me, as is Elisabeth, ever since I took a class from her. I loved the idea of making an apron that allows you to button on a working towel and then, when the work is done, button on a pretty and clean towel. Finally, I am going to take some inspiration about color mixing from my good friend, Sarah H. Jackson, in her article "Mixing Colors in Turned Twill for Coordinated Pillows" in the November/December 2012 issue of Handwoven. Sarah has an instinctive sense of color and color blending, and her work is always beautiful. It will be an apron for my husband and it might even be woven in a mixture of pink, orange, and purple.


—Susan Horton

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